Joanna Baillie

(1762-1851 / Scotland)

A Mother To Her Waking Infant - Poem by Joanna Baillie

NOW in thy dazzled half-op'd eye,
Thy curled nose and lip awry,
Up-hoisted arms and noddling head,
And little chin with crystal spread,
Poor helpless thing! what do I see,
That I should sing of thee?
From thy poor tongue no accents come,
Which can but rub thy toothless gum:
Small understanding boasts thy face,
Thy shapeless limbs nor step nor grace:
A few short words thy feats may tell,
And yet I love thee well.
When wakes the sudden bitter shriek,
And redder swells thy little cheek;
When rattled keys thy woes beguile,
And through thine eye-lids gleams the smile,
Still for thy weakly self is spent
Thy little silly plaint.
But when thy friends are in distress,
Thou'lt laugh and chuckle ne'ertheless,
Nor with kind sympathy be smitten,
Though all are sad but thee and kitten;
Yet, puny varlet that thou art,
Thou twitchest at the heart.
Thy smooth round cheek so soft and warm;
Thy pinky hand and dimpled arm;
Thy silken locks that scantly peep,
With gold-tipp'd ends, where circles deep,
Around thy neck in harmless grace,
So soft and sleekly hold their place,
Might harder hearts with kindness fill,
And gain our right goodwill.
Each passing clown bestows his blessing,
Thy mouth is worn with old wives' kissing;
E'en lighter looks the gloomy eye
Of surly sense when thou art by;
And yet, I think, whoe'er they be,
They love thee not like me.
Perhaps when time shall add a few
Short months to thee thou'lt love me too;
And after that, through life's long way,
Become my sure and cheering stay;
Will care for me and be my hold,
When I am weak and old.
Thou'lt listen to my lengthened tale,
And pity me when I am frail --
But see, the sweepy spinning fly,
Upon the window takes thine eye.
Go to thy little senseless play;
Thou dost not heed my lay.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010



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